Neometals Launches Pilot Testing On Barrambie Concentrate

ASX-listed Neometals has kicked off a pilot-scale trial program that will test gravity concentrates from its Barrambie titaniumvanadium project in WA as it looks to advance a possibly low CAPEX development of a mining and beneficiation operation. The move comes after recently completed metallurgical test work undertaken in China confirmed the Perth-based company’s “breakthrough” reduction roasting and magnetic separation flowsheet.

Neometals says its potential Chinese joint venture partner, the Institute of Multipurpose Utilisation of Mineral Resources Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, or “IMUMR” will manage and fund the pilot trials.

The beneficiation trials are aimed at demonstrating that a simple gravity concentrate can be roasted and separated into two high-quality products with commercial specifications – an ilmenite concentrate and a vanadium-rich magnetite concentrate.

The trials are slated to be completed in the June 2021 quarter, with product evaluation results from would-be offtake customers expected in the following quarter whilst the potential partners work towards a possible development decision this year.

Neometals is also planning to progress early discussions with mining and processing contractors in relation to potential mine-to-port arrangements.

According to the company, Barrambie is Australia’s most advanced, undeveloped hard-rock titanium mineral resource. It is located approximately 80 kilometres north-west of the gold mining centre of Sandstone. The titanium-vanadium-rich magnetite occurs within a suite of intrusive mafic rocks.

Management says its Barrambie development strategy involves unlocking value from both the titanium and vanadium in the deposit. Results generated by IMUMR to date suggest this could be realised via clean concentrates ultimately generated from an initially low CAPEX mining and beneficiation operation for export to end users.

The preferred development vision envisages conventional open-cut mining, comminution and gravity concentration on site and a mixed titanium-vanadium-iron concentrate being shipped to China for reduction roasting and magnetic separation.

Neometals already has a granted mining proposal covering Barrambie for a 1.2 million-tonne-per-annum mine and it has ministerial approval for the construction of a processing plant with an ore throughput capacity of 3.2 million tonnes per annum.

Under the proposed scenario, China’s reduction roast-magnetic separation work would culminate in the production of a clean titanium concentrate – ilmenite – and a by-product in the form of a vanadium-rich iron magnetite concentrate.

Neometals says the Barrambie ilmenite product is earmarked for smelting to produce a chloride-grade titanium slag to feed the growing demands of the Chinese chloride pigment market as it diverts from environmental challenges associated with sulphate pigment production.

The magnetite concentrate is targeted at steelmakers for blending into vanadium and iron units.